Pramod Sharma (Blood cancer): “Her jolly spirit kept her alive”

 Blood cancer occurs when there is extensive growth of abnormal cells and it hinders the functioning of normal blood cells.  My mother was diagnosed with blood cancer about two years ago when she was nearly 70 years of age. We live as a joint family in New Delhi and I am the youngest son. Initially my mother was experiencing itching in different parts of the body and we got it examined by a doctor who diagnosed it as blood cancer at a very minor stage.

They were doctors with experience of more than a decade and said that it could be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the given medication. We were regular with our check-ups at AIMS hospital, Delhi and were open to alternate suggestions and possibilities. 

Eventually, we switched to Rajeev Gandhi Hospital for a more personalized treatment and to get a second opinion. They gave similar advice and for about seven months there was no deterioration of health. After a while, the TLC count went up again and the doctors suggested a medicine to tackle the problem. She took the medicine for 4 months but ultimately her TLC count increased even more rapidly and immunity level dropped. This meant a visit to the hospital and my mother was admitted in Rajeev Gandhi Hospital where the first chemotherapy was given. She was mobile at this stage but the treatment could not improve her condition much.

A month later, another blood test revealed that her TLC count was still increasing. A third opinion was then taken from a doctor in Dwarka who said that chemotherapy was the only solution. It worked till she was in the hospital but worsened as soon as she went home. After that there were constant trips to and from the hospital until she was bedridden. The doctors told us that it was incurable and the treatment wasn’t affecting her anymore.

One can always continue the normal medication but it is extremely costly and expenses can be up to 2 lakh per month. She would be dependent on those medicines for the rest of her life and I was not able to afford it. During the last period, my mother had pneumonia and was very ill. Her kidney was not functional on her last day and she passed away.

My mother had been sanguine throughout the process and she was a woman of strength. Most of the family members live with us or close by so someone was always around to care for her and take her for her check-ups. Cancer is a feared and indecorous word in our society and we kept our mother away from it for as long as possible. The doctors we consulted were very confident about chemotherapy and were not inclined towards other options. The doctors greeted her during check-ups and put her at ease with light conversation. They would tease her and she would smile back at them.

Emotional support from the doctor can improve the patient’s mental health by a great extent.  Her jolly spirit kept her alive and did not give up even on learning that she has cancer. She always said, ‘’You cannot control what goes on around you. But you can smile and spread positivity around you.” I believe it helps a lot in the face of adversity and gives you the will to make the best out a bad situation. You become grateful for life’s beautiful blessings and be kind and compassionate towards others. So I tell everyone to believe in the power of not giving up and always face life with a big smile.